While every organ system in our body changes over time and lessens in its efficiency, nowhere is it more outwardly apparent than in the largest organ of the human body—the skin.
Have you ever marveled over the smooth, poreless appearance of baby skin? The reason the skin of very young children is so beautiful is because time hasn’t yet had a chance to compromise the integrity of the skin with environmental factors and the process of natural aging. Baby skin appears poreless simply because the pores haven’t yet accumulated years of being repeatedly stretched and depleted by the process of secreting natural skin oils. Baby skin has not yet been subjected to years of damaging sun, wind, products, and other environmental factors. In essence, their skin is as yet untouched by the ravages of time.
Changes in Skin as We Age
As we leave childhood behind, our skin changes in several ways in reaction to changes in hormone production. We endure the teen years with overactive sebaceous glands and acne, then enjoy decades of healthy young skin filled with collagen for strength and firmness, and elastin, which enables us to be expressive without leaving fine lines behind. However, as the years pass, our skin begins to follow the natural process of aging and as our cells lose their efficiency, they begin to produce less collagen and elastin and skin cell turnover slows down, causing a dull and lifeless appearance where we once had a dewy glow. The subcutaneous fat layer thins, allowing our skin to collapse against the bone which results in under-eye circles. The years of sun exposure becomes more obvious as sun-exposed areas show spots, lines, and possibly a leathery appearance if we’ve had prolonged UV ray exposure.
So what steps should a maturing person take to minimize these changes, slow them down, and correct them? How should our skincare regimen change as we begin to deal with aging skin?
How to Maintain the Healthiest Possible Skin as We Age
If the years have piled up into decades but your skincare regimen hasn’t changed, it’s time to take an objective look at your skin, acknowledge the changes, and adjust your skincare regimen accordingly. Aging skin needs special care with the objective of replacing essential elements that older skin cells are lacking: moisture, collagen, and elastin, as well as encouraging skin cells to function more like those of younger skin. In order to accomplish this, it’s going to be necessary to add a few simple steps to your skincare regimen, if you’re still only washing and using a nightly moisturizer.
These steps involve replacing what your skin has lost and protecting skin from further damage.
In the Evenings
• Use a cream cleaner, rather than a foaming one. Soap and foaming cleansers can over-cleanse your skin and strip the natural oils from your pores and the skin’s surface. As we age, our pores produce less oil, resulting in drier skin. As you mature, you should choose a moisturizing cream cleanser that will add moisture to your skin, rather than strip it away.
• Use an antioxidant-rich toner spray. After gently cleansing your face, it’s beneficial to use a non-astringent toner spray with antioxidants, such as those made with rose water or green tea. After cleansing in warm water, your pores are at their most open and accepting, making this the perfect time to infuse them with antioxidants to combat aging free radical cells.
• Add a serum to your skincare regimen. After your toner spritz, add a few drops of a liquid serum to your skin by lightly massaging it into your face in upward motions. Serums don’t typically moisturize because they are concentrated—whereas heavy moisturizers spend a lot of time sitting on the surface of the skin as a protectant, serums are packed with powerful nutrients and anti-aging properties that are quickly absorbed deep below the skin’s surface to deliver benefits directly into skin cells where healing and repair should begin. Serums containing ingredients such as retinol, aid in the production of collagen and elastin to strengthen and firm the skin, and encourage cell regeneration—the sloughing off of dead skin cells and regeneration of newer, healthier cells.
• Use a good, all-over face moisturizer. Because toners and serums don’t add moisture, it’s critical to use a good nighttime face moisturizer. The best face moisturizers for mature skin contain super-hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid which literally draws moisture from the air and pulls it into skin cells for essential hydration. Moisturizers should also contain rich emollients to effectively seal off the skin by promoting a strong barrier to lock in hydration and seal out environmental impurities.
In the Mornings
• Use broad-spectrum SPF protection every day. If you didn’t begin doing this during your younger years, it’s time to start now. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, we should be using a daily moisturizer with SPF protection of at least thirty for optimal protection from damaging UV rays. UV rays and other environmental factors create harmful free radical cells that develop in our skin and impede the efficient function of skin cells and cause signs of aging.
Daily moisturizers are designed to protect skin with a strong skin barrier and are typically formulated to wear under makeup.
Besides protecting the skin with a moisturizer with sunscreen, you should consider wearing a broad-brimmed hat whenever you plan to be outdoors in the sun for long periods of time.
• Use a foundation for mature skin. If you’ve been using the same foundation for decades, it’s time to try something new. Foundations tailored to mature skin contain beneficial ingredients such as anti-aging peptides, hyaluronic acid, and other ingredients to improve the health of aging skin. They also typically are formulated to resist settling into fine lines and to improve the discoloration and uneven skin tone associated with more mature skin.
• Use a liquid concealer rather than a stick. As you age, it’s time to leave behind the cakey stick concealers that are intended to cover the blemishes and imperfections of youth and move to one that’s intended to lift and brighten the under-eye area to diminish dark circles and highlight the area with a more youthful radiance. Liquid concealers are less likely to settle into fine lines and cake or flake.
If you haven’t updated your skincare routine since your roaring twenties, it’s time to start acting your age. A few simple additions and changes will allow your mature skin to be its healthiest possible self.
Resources — LorealParis, HowStuffWorks, AAD.org